US pork producer switches to solar energy to power feed mill

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Justin Paget
© GettyImages/Justin Paget

Related tags solar power energy

The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family-owned hog producer networks in North America, with 150,000 sows and production sites in six states, is using a 3.06-Megawatt solar array to power a key feed mill.

It broke ground on the Griggsville, Illinois-based solar array, which is sited on 11 acres adjacent to the mill, in mid-May 2022.

Indiana-based, Solential Energy, and mechanical subcontractor, A to Z Solar, completed the installation of 6,800 ground-mounted, fixed-tilt solar panels on October 21. BK Electric and Illinois Electric Cooperative oversaw the grid connection.

Headquartered in Carlyle, Illinois, the company outlined how it sought out advice from energy consultant, Jeff Haarmann, managing partner of Affordable Gas and Electric (AGE), along with Solential Energy on how to reduce its energy spend.

“In 2019, we were facing an incredible dilemma,”​ said Gerry Daignault, vice president of support operations, at the hog company. “Griggsville is our main feed facility, processing 350,000 tons of grain each year to feed more than 25% of the company’s pigs each year. The mill is one of the company’s most energy intensive operations, and rising energy costs were something we could not absorb and remain profitable—and that was before 2022 when energy costs really took off. We needed to do something.”

After months of due diligence and energy modeling, renewable solar energy was deemed to be the best path forward.

Federal and state incentives 

The determining factor came down to federal and state incentives, said the pork firm. One program in particular, Illinois Shines, provided financial incentives in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) that compensate solar array owners for each unit of energy produced and sold back to the state, said the pig producer.

Solential Energy determined the solar project would offset about 56% of the Griggsville Mill’s energy consumption, with projected first year energy savings of $320,000.

With the Illinois Shines Program’s SREC incentives, the annual financial impact will increase to about $700,000. With federal tax credits and depreciation, Solential anticipates that the the array will pay for itself in roughly five years.

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